I’ll never listen to Elvis Costello again.
That comes as an unsettling realisation. I don’t think I’m overstating the case when I say that in the past I’ve been a complete Costello obsessive. I knew every album backwards. I listened to songs on a loop. I read biographies, studied lyrics, re-bought CDs when they were issued with new liner notes, collected stuff he’d penned for other singers, watched crappy movies purely on the basis of a tune on the soundtrack.
I was an unapologetic Costellophile for fifteen years. Case in point: I was in a band in my teens and twenties. This being pre-social media, we advertised for replacement drummers, new guitar players etc in the NME. We’d send interested parties a demo tape so they knew what we were about. Having listened, one guitarist phoned to withdraw his interest. I took the call while the rest of the band slouched around my parents’ kitchen table. “It’s just Elvis Costello all over again,” the guy said. “Exactly!” I beamed, delighted.
So when did it stop? Hard to pinpoint exactly, but a while ago now it just vanished. I mean, I still love the guy, but there must be five albums now that I’ve never heard a note of. I’ve no desire to check ‘em out on Spotify either. I just know – in some way that I can’t hope to successfully express – that my Costello period is over, like it was too intense and burned itself completely out.
Which gets me wondering. Will my Aesop Rock fixation die too? Will I wake up one day and suddenly find I’m not into sci-fi survival horror, zombie-flicks, Indiana Jones or heist movies? Or that I find Stephen King tiresome? Will I write a blogpost declaring a complete and detached neutrality on football matters relating to Huddersfield Town? Or – here’s the crux of it, folks – will I one day go off YA?
Each of us is a bundle of obsessions, I guess, but which of them are in the bone, which in the skin, and which in the haircut, tattoo or t-shirt? Or have all our fascinations a certain half-life or potential energy and the more we fuel them the faster they burn up? And then there’s this: so far, for me at least, when one fixation goes another one comes along to replace it. But will that always happen, or do we start to run down our reserves as we grow older, so that we end our days unable to feel any thrill of anticipation even when the next Star Wars movie comes out?
Scary thought. But equally you can’t live life cooling the heat on the stuff you love in the hope that it’s preserved for longer. Stoke the flames and burn that baby up as bright as brilliant as possible, I say.
And when it dies, whatever it is, you can always get into zombie-flicks. Or Elvis Costello, right?